Diet and Mental Health: What’s the Evidence?
Diet significantly influences mental health and wellbeing, but this connection is firmly established only in some areas such as the ability of a high fat and low carbohydrate diet (a ketogenic diet) to assist kids with epilepsy, and the effect of vitamin B12 deficiency on fatigue, poor memory, and depression, says a study.
The research, published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, cautions that the evidence of a connection between diet and mental health for many diets is comparatively weak.
“We’ve discovered that there is increasing evidence of a connection between a poor diet and the worsening of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. However, several common beliefs about the health effects of certain foods aren’t supported by strong evidence,” said lead author Suzanne Dickson, Professor at University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
The researchers who conducted a comprehensive review of research linking diet with mental health also discovered that there is good evidence that a Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables and olive oil, shows mental health benefits, like giving some protection against depression and stress.
But for many foods or supplements, the evidence is inconclusive, as for example with the use of vitamin D supplements, or with foods considered to be related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism.
“With individual conditions, we frequently found very mixed signs,” said Dickson.
“With ADHD for instance, we can observe an increase in the quantity of refined sugar in the diet appears to increase ADHD and hyperactivity, whereas eating more fresh fruit and vegetables seems to protect against these conditions.
“But there are relatively few studies, and many don’t last long enough to show long-term effects,” she added.
The scientists confirmed that some foods had easily provable links to mental health, by way of example, that nutrition in the womb and in early life can have significant effects on brain function in later life. Proving the impact of diet on mental health in the general population was more difficult.
Suzanne Dickson”In healthy adults’ dietary effects on mental health are rather small, and that makes detecting these effects difficult: it might be that dietary supplementation only works if there are deficiencies due to a poor diet.” There are also. A food is not a drug, so it has to be tested differently to a drug.